Sunbury Cemetery - Sunbury, Georgia
Sunbury Cemetery - Sunbury, Georgia
Sunbury Cemetery
This historic Georgia cemetery is almost all that
remains of the Ghost Town of Sunbury, Georgia.
It dates from the 1700s.
Sunbury Cemetery
Only a few dozen graves are
still visible today, but many
others have been lost to time
at this Colonial era cemetery.
Remembering a Lost Town
Interpretive signs at Sunbury
Cemetery tell the story of the
burial ground's importance to
the lost town of Sunbury.
Sunbury Cemetery - Sunbury, Georgia
The Cemetery of a Ghost Town
Copyright 2013 by Dale Cox
All rights reserved.

Last Updated: May 13, 2013
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Ghost Towns of the South
Georgia's Lost Port
Sunbury thrived during the
1700s and was the scene of
important military actions
during the Revolutionary War.
Sunbury Cemetery
The cemetery occupies one of
the three squares of the old
town of Sunbury. Established
in 1758, it was used into the
20th Century.
The last visible vestige of Georgia's famed
"dead town" of Sunbury, the historic Sunbury
Cemetery tells a story in stone and silence.

A once prosperous city, Sunbury thrived
during the years before the Revolutionary
War. At one point, in fact, its port was second
in commerce only to Savannah among cities
on the South Atlantic coast.

That changed with the outbreak of the
American Revolution in 1775. Sunbury, along
with nearby
Midway, strongly supported the
cause of American Independence and in
1778 became a key target for British troops.

East Florida and West Florida had remained
loyal to King George III in the Revolutionary
War, unlike the thirteen other American
colonies. The presence of a British colony on
its border represented a serious threat to
Georgia and three different invasions of East
Florida were launched from Sunbury during
the early years of the war.

The British retaliated in 1778 with an attack
up the coast from Florida. One column of
British troops marched inland up the old road
connecting Darien with Savannah by way of
Midway. The other column came by sea,
moving up the coast with a plan to land at
Sunbury and pin down the garrison of Fort
Morris until the other column could come up
and join in an attack.

The land column was led by Lt. Col. J.M.
Prevost and made it as far as Midway Chuch,
defeating smaller Patriot forces at Bulltown
Swamp and Midway Church. At the church,
however, American officers planted a false
order for Prevost to find. It indicated Patriot
forces were gathering on the Ogeechee River
to oppose him. Since the amphibious
column had not yet reached Sunbury, he
turned back.

The second British force reached Sunbury by
sea on November 24, 1778. Led by Lt. Col.
L.V. Fuser, it came ashore and occupied the
town while moving into position to surround
Fort Morris. Fuser demanded the surrender
of the fort but its commander, Col. John
McIntosh, responded with defiance that the
British should, "Come and take it."

Without Prevost's force to reinforce him,
Fuser decided not to test the 24 cannon of
Fort Morris and withdrew. His men, however,
had looted and otherwise damaged the
homes and business of Sunbury during their
brief occupation.

The British came back again in 1779 and this
time took Fort Morris. Sunbury was turned
into a prisoner of war camp and its houses
used to house officers and troops. Many of its
remaining inhabitants fled.

Sunbury never recovered from its occupation
by British forces during the Revolutionary
War. The town slowly began to die and by the
time of the Civil War, when Union troops
burned the Sunbury Baptist Church, it had all
but disappeared.

The last house is now long since gone, but
the old cemetery survives. No one knows for
sure how many people are buried there. Only
34 tombstones survive, but it is believed that
many other graves remain in the vicinity.
Among those known to be buried at Sunbury
Cemetery is the Rev. Dr. William McWhir,
D.D. Born in Ireland and educated at Belfast
Academy, he served as principal of the
Sunbury Academy for thirty years. He died on
June 30, 1851, and his stone is one of the
markers still to be seen in the cemetery.

The oldest of the 34 standing markers dates
from 1788 and the most recent was placed in
1911. No interment records are known to
survive, but the cemetery is shown on old
plats of Sunbury as having been located on
the southwest corner of Church Square since
the earliest days of the town's existence.

Burials likely were taking place in the
cemetery well before the Revolutionary War
and it is one of the locations where soldiers
who were killed or died in Sunbury during the
war could be buried.

The cemetery was cleaned up and fenced in
1980 and is entered via an ornamental gate
on its south side where visitors will find
interpretive markers and a stone monument.

To reach Sunbury Cemetery from nearby
Morris State Historic Site, turn right on Fort
Morris Road as you exit the park.  Follow it to
its intersection with Brigatine Dunmoor Road
and Village Drive. Markers there will tell you
about Sunbury itself.

From this intersection, continue onto
Brigatine Dunmoor for a short distance then
turn left on Sunbury Road. A short distance
after making this turn, you will turn right onto
Dutchman's Cove Road. It will dead-end at
the cemetery, which is free to visit.

Please click here to learn more about the
Ghost Town of Sunbury, Georgia.

Please click here to learn more about the
Sunbury Cemetery.
Grave of J.T. Stevens
Among the marked graves
still seen in the cemetery is
that of J.T. Stevens, who died
in 1861 at the age of eleven.